The DCEU doesn't need team-up films when they're doing strong solo films such as Wonder Woman and Aquaman, producer Peter Safran says. Fresh from their latest (and biggest commercial) win, the Warner Bros. superhero franchise is operating on a high note, believing that they've finally cracked the code when it comes to lore-building. It turns out, the key is to go small, with focus on standalone projects rather than ensemble ones.
Kicking off in 2013 with Man of Steel, the DCEU has rolled out a total of six movies with varying success. But it doesn't seem like it's a coincidence that two of their best-received offerings are solo adventures with a self-contained story and not much connection to the bigger franchise that it belongs to. Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot is DC's first real smash hit - winning both critics and audiences around the globe, and despite a stumble in Justice League, they came back strong with James Wan's Aquaman. The Jason Momoa-starrer may not be as critically-praised as Gadot's, but it's the highest grossing DC film thus far, spawning its own spinoff, The Trench. Looking at the pattern, Safran comes to the conclusion that at this point in their process, there's no need to rush in a team-up movie.
Speaking with THR in light of the upcoming Aquaman horror offshoot, which will take place after the first film but will not feature Arthur (Momoa) or Mera (Amber Heard), Safran opens up about the DCEU's newfound approach to their films. The producer, who frequently collaborated with Wan in The Conjuring franchise says that the strong solo adventures can carry the franchise forward without the need to have them all team up in an ensemble flick. That's not to say that they won't be all converging at some point, but currently, this should be the their current mindset when managing the film series.
“I think that when you’re making really strong stand-alone movies, there’s really no need to bring them together. You want to give these characters room to breathe and live, and tell their stories.
“Wonder Woman has shown what a great stand-alone property that is. And in Aquaman, we feel the same way. We think that there’s a great sequel and beyond to tell. We introduce seven kingdoms of Atlantis, right? James Wan knows the architecture, the armory, the military, the look, the feel, the general vibe of each of these kingdoms, and I’m sure that there will be an opportunity to explore them in some way later on.”
Safran's comments echoes the one Jenkins' made earlier this year regarding the need to focus more on solo films, adding that she's excited to see Aquaman 2 and the Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley-directed The Flash film starring Ezra Miller. She also pointed out how intricately these team-up films are planned, and when they're done brilliantly, it's great to see them play out on the big screen. But in terms of where the DCEU is right now, the Wonder Woman 1984 filmmaker maintains that "everyone should have a moment to shine."
This has always been what most critics of the DCEU was pointing out since 2016's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. It felt like Warner Bros. rushed in building their superhero universe without properly establishing their characters. That doesn't mean that they all needed solo films before Justice League came out but the public should've at least been invested in them individually before they all came together. Only time will tell if this is the right move for the franchise, but it's hard to argue with given the success of Wonder Woman and Aquaman. It's just that given the roster of characters they all own, it would be nice to know that these individual stories have the promise of culminating down the road like in the comics down the road.
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